5 Lessons I learned at the Oregon Manufacturers’ Summit

Oregon’s manufacturing community deserves the best that OMEP has to offer. As our events and marketing manager I poured every ounce of focus and ability into crafting a summit event that encapsulated the challenges and successes of being an Oregon manufacturer. To many degrees, this effort was successful. With a packed agenda including 7 breakout sessions, 3 legislative speakers and interesting commentary from high school students, I could not have been more excited to bring Oregon’s premier manufacturing event to life!  Along the way, I’ve learned a few lessons.

You Crave Learning

Our community of manufacturers is full of generous, creative and talented folks, who want to share their knowledge and skills with whomever is willing to learn. This was evident at the summit as we saw makers, manufacturers and suppliers building valuable connections and discovering companies in their own backyards with whom they might not have previously been acquainted.

Beyond knowledge sharing, you as manufacturers made it clear: tangible, growth-oriented learning sessions are your forte. We strove to facilitate this by offering 7 in depth breakout sessions , but you want more!
We’ve received your feedback and we’re listening – next year we will add more sessions, more technical tracks, and more collaboration opportunities. We’re already working on a keynote speaker, and some serious re-vamping to our schedule so this event is more convenient for commuters.

Manufacturing is Cause for Celebration

In Oregon, manufacturers are responsible for 29% of our gross state product. They hire over 228 thousand people and are continuing to grow – adding jobs at rates more than twice the national average. Yet, many manufacturers seemed surprised by this news. Makers are worth celebrating! I am thankful we connected over the excitement of creating something new and celebrated success as a community that matters to Oregon’s over all health and prosperity.

Innovation is Contagious

Centennial High School senior Collin Heyman declared, “I chose manufacturing because of my dad. Growing up, he could make something out of anything. And that was inspiring! … What I’ve learned in school is just a fraction of what I’ve learned in the Pathways to Manufacturing program. Manufacturing has broadened my horizons.”

Kelley Roy of ADX Portland echoed this message when she declared: “The transformation is real. When students come through our classes they see possibility. I could create my own product line! No one told me that before!”
Time after time, we heard stories from students, makers, and manufacturers about the value of creating, and the joy of producing a quality product in an innovative way. Manufacturing sparks creativity and innovation!

We Can’t Do It Alone

Without the help of our talented partners, OMEP would not be in the position to provide as many resources for clients. Every step of the way, we enjoy the privilege of partnering with Oregon’s best economic development, workforce development, high enterprise consortium, chambers of commerce, trade associations and countless other organizations that add depth and breadth to Oregon’s manufacturing ecosystem.

The industry would not be the same without the tireless work of legislators championing our causes, and bringing innovation to the forefront of the political agenda. Without the support of Tina Kotek, Richard Devlin and Suzanne Bonamici, Oregon’s manufacturing landscape could look very different. It is easy to forget that battles for growth and family wage jobs are being fought in the capital as well as on the factory floor.

In the End, It’s about People

Overall the summit was a lesson in humility. I am humbled to be a part of the manufacturing community and the resource partners who serve them. Our great State of Oregon is poised for continued growth. Let’s keep dreaming, making and doing.

If you missed the summit, you can catch up with presenters at summit.omep.com. Join our online learning community at NW ManufacturersSwitchboard.com If you haven’t already, join the Network at OMEP.Network.org and take advantage of our downloadable resource map.

Oregon Manufacturers’ Summit: Highlights from OMEP on Vimeo.